Family of Manitoba man who killed parents files lawsuit against health authorities

WINNIPEG — Siblings of a man found not criminally responsible for killing their parents are suing Manitoba health authorities, claiming staff did not provide adequate psychiatric care, which resulted in the stabbings.

A judge ruled last week that Trevor Farley was not criminally responsible for killing his mother, Judy Swain, and his father, Stuart Farley, as well as attacking Candyce Szkwarek, who was his colleague at Seven Oaks General Hospital in Winnipeg.

Russell Farley, Paul Farley and Sharon MacLeod filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Shared Health, alleging staff negligence at Winnipeg's Crisis Response Centre caused the death of their parents.

Trevor Farley's trial heard that he had been in psychosis and was supposed to be under an involuntary hold at the crisis centre when the attacks happened in 2021.

Farley's siblings are requesting compensation under the province's Fatal Accidents Act as well as for funeral expenses, mental distress and punitive damages.

The health authorities, which have yet to file statements of defence, say they don't comment on matters before the court.

The siblings said in a statement that they hope legal action will shed a light on the importance of following proper procedures and the duty of care owed to the general public.

"Their hope is that no other family has to endure such a profound loss as the result of negligence in the mental health-care system," the family's lawyer said in a statement.

The statement of claim says Farley had reported to staff members at the crisis centre that he was experiencing delusions, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts, which resulted in staff placing him under an involuntary hold on the morning of Oct. 27, 2021.

Later that day, Farley walked out of the centre, and staff members called police.

He would later kill his father, then kill his mother, and last stab Szkwarek at the hospital, where he had worked as a nurse.

The lawsuit argues Farley should have been put in a secure, locked room after being placed under the psychiatric hold.

"The defendants owed Trevor and the general public, including Stuart and Judy, a duty of care at law to protect them once it was identified a person, in this case Trevor, was suffering from significant mental health issues whereby he could be a danger to himself or others," the lawsuit says.

"In all the circumstances, failing to meet the standard required of a reasonable crisis response centre."

Farley's lawyer said his client acknowledges he committed the attacks, and the defence and Crown agreed he should be found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

Court of King's Bench Justice Kenneth Champagne also designated Farley a high-risk accused, which means he may be required to stay in mental-health hospitals longer, may require more security and may only be allowed the leave a facility for supervised appointments.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2023.

The Canadian Press